Clients ask me all the time what they should wear for their family session. I always encourage personality & feeling like your best self, but there are a couple tips & tricks I can offer for picking out your wardrobe! I’ve pulled some shots from spring & summer family sessions to help illustrate some tips, as well as a couple of Mood Boards that I put together at the end of this post for inspiration. I’ve also included some of my favorite places to shop when looking for that perfect outfit. But again, stay true to your own style! Feeling confident in your outfit is one of the easiest ways to feel more comfortable in front of the camera. Putting a little thought & effort into choosing what to wear is essential for a successful shoot!
Coordinate, don’t match!
Gone are the days of everyone in the family wearing matching khaki pants and blue button downs (guilty) – and thank goodness! My number one tip is to coordinate rather than match! The key elements for coordinating outfits are color & pattern. I reccommend choosing 1 to 2 patterns of different scale within the same color family. Scale refers to the size of the print, i.e. a wide stripe vs. a small polkadot, or a delicate floral vs. a bold gingham that features one of the same colors (like above). This boy’s shirt *goes with* (this is the key phrase here!) his mom’s shirt because they both feature a pop of pink, but at a different scale. Dad kept it neutral with denim & grey which is tip #2. If you’re incorporating one or more prints, choose solid colors from them to round out the remaining outfit pieces. All of the outfits should stick within about 2-3 color families.
Keep it simple!
If you’re nervous to mix colors & patterns, play with different textures and patterns in just one color family! The Dunhams (above) went with a gray, navy & denim pallet which was simple, but worked great with the beach setting.
They played with blues & pinks for Greta’s newborn session (below) and it was absolutely adorable!! Again, you can see mom’s bold floral is contrasted by baby girl’s delicate stripe, and her brother’s darker pink. All in the same color family!
The Shelfords (below) went with two different textured whites and it was beautiful, fresh & timeless! Be sure to bring a blanket to sit on for some photos as well. This should be neutral or a pattern that coordinates with your outfits. This will also protect your clothes from getting wet if the ground or bench is damp, so be sure it can be washed!
Consider your surroundings
I always tell my clients to consider their surroundings. Hence the light khaki pants/light blue button down dilema of matching the sand and ocean. There is a way to do this well, though, as you can see in the family photos below. Dad & son went with a darker chambray top and chino bottom, giving their outfits enough contrast against the sand and sky. Another example would be to stay away from brown & green if we’re shooting in the forest as you could blend in to the trees!
Choose neutrals for timeless photos
You should definitely stay away from big or distracting graphics & logos. No statement tee’s here! I even suggest wearing polos & button downs that have no branding if possible. No matter what you choose, your clothing will date your photos – that’s just how fashion works! And I honestly think that is part of the fun. But, I do like to encourage clients to err on the side of simple, so you can focus more on the people inside the clothes, rather than on what they were wearing.
Mood Board Inspiration
Where to Shop
Some of my favorite stores (that are featured in these mood boards) include:
Anthropologie: Statement pieces for women to build the family outfits around
Zara: On-trend neutrals, great for kiddos
Gap: Perfect neutrals for the whole family, great for things like scarves, too
J. Crew: Classic patterns and shapes to offset statement pieces
Madewell: Modern twists on classic shapes & colors
BaubleBar: Don’t forget about accessories! Baublebar has fun necklaces and earrings that can really pull together a look!
I hope this is helpful for when you are trying to figure out what to wear for your family session! Read more family session FAQ here!
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